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The frog tadpole on the left was implanted with stem cells to give it a new eye, seen on the right. The discovery could one day restore sight in humans.  (Source: Michael Zuber)
Scientist help disabled frogs live fuller lives -- and hopefully someday humans too

Technology promises to cure many ailments in the near future, from paralysis to blindness.  In the case of blindness, the only question is whether an electronic gadget or an organic stem-cell driven solution will be the first to hit the market and gain mainstream acceptance.

Supporters of the stem cell approach got a big boost from new research at the SUNY Upstate Medical University, in Syracuse, NY.  Researcher Michael Zuber and his colleagues report that by taking stem cells from frog eggs, they're able to prod the cells to grow into eyes when attached to tadpoles, baby frogs.

In order to get the cells to become eyes, the team genetically modified them, inserting transcription factors (proteins that trigger expression of other genes) which are known to regulate eye growth and development.

The scientists then implanted the cells into tadpoles missing an eye.  The cells properly developed and differentiated into all seven types of retinal cells and appeared to have the proper structure.  Additionally the new eye attached properly to the brain.  In swimming tests the eye was shown to be working as implanted tadpoles only swam to the white side of the tank (normal behavior), while blind ones would also swim to the black side of the tank.

Would the technique work on mammals?  The answer is maybe -- frogs naturally have a much easier type regrowing tissues than humans, in fact they can be triggered to regrow legs and many amphibians can regrow lost tails.  Triggering proper differentiation in mammals is much more complex.

Nonetheless, Professor Zuber hopes that chemicals will be found from the research that can activate transcription factors in humans.  Even if a full eye could not be grown, this could help people with retinal disorders regenerate ocular tissue.

In a separate, but perhaps equally intriguing study performed by Sujeong Jang of Chonnam National University, in South Korea, and his colleagues, the researchers were able to restore the hearing of deaf guinea pigs by implanting them with human neural stem cells obtained from human bone marrow.

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Talk about awesome!
By Gzus666 on 11/21/2008 10:24:23 AM , Rating: 1
Man, I could go for a few extra arms...

RE: Talk about awesome!
By arazok on 11/21/2008 10:48:31 AM , Rating: 3
I’ve got eyes on the back of my head…

RE: Talk about awesome!
By Gzus666 on 11/21/2008 10:49:49 AM , Rating: 4
Yea, but that would make haircuts a nerve racking experience. WATCH OUT FOR THE EYES!

RE: Talk about awesome!
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 11/21/2008 11:15:35 AM , Rating: 2
This is great news for Hip (my pet frog). Just last week he poked his eye out by hopping into a low branch. He has not been able to hit a fly ever since that day.... Sad, however he will be happy to hear this news.

RE: Talk about awesome!
By hduser on 11/21/2008 1:42:50 PM , Rating: 2
Why couldn't they have tried it on a toad. That way we can get Hypnotoad like in Futurama.

RE: Talk about awesome!
By Gzus666 on 11/21/2008 2:35:04 PM , Rating: 2
We are years from perfecting hypnotoad eyes.

RE: Talk about awesome!
By William Gaatjes on 11/21/2008 2:43:15 PM , Rating: 2
That's sad, i hope Hip will be ok.

RE: Talk about awesome!
By napalmjack on 11/21/2008 11:21:22 AM , Rating: 2
Too bad Christopher Reeves is not around anymore...


RE: Talk about awesome!
By Gzus666 on 11/21/08, Rating: 0
RE: Talk about awesome!
By tastyratz on 11/21/2008 12:04:45 PM , Rating: 2
one step closer to...

Burninating the stem cells!

RE: Talk about awesome!
By ThePooBurner on 11/21/2008 12:13:22 PM , Rating: 3
Yeah... Arms. Right... ;)

RE: Talk about awesome!
By AnnihilatorX on 11/21/2008 1:49:28 PM , Rating: 2
I could go with an extra reproductive organ!

RE: Talk about awesome!
By Ammohunt on 11/21/2008 2:05:12 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah or a nice pair of breasts..of course i would never leave the house....

RE: Talk about awesome!
By Sahkuhnder on 11/21/2008 3:52:52 PM , Rating: 2
This could create an entirely new meaning to "Go f**k yourself"!

RE: Talk about awesome!
By Orbs on 11/24/2008 4:00:03 PM , Rating: 2
Man, I could go for a few extra arms...

Goro wins.

"If you look at the last five years, if you look at what major innovations have occurred in computing technology, every single one of them came from AMD. Not a single innovation came from Intel." -- AMD CEO Hector Ruiz in 2007

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